The Longest Day 2018
Home | News | Events | Press | Contact  

About UseNewsletterMessage BoardsAction CenterAdvocateWalk to End Alzheimer’sShopDonate

Find your chapter:

search by state

In My Community
Arthur Kastner - A Man with Alzheimer's Disease
Text Size controlsNormal font sizeMedium font sizeLarge font size

(Arthur and Rosemary Kastner)

Arthur Kastner was an insurance salesman in West Allis for more than 45 years.  He was a family man, with a devoted wife, Rosemary, four children (Kathlyn & Jerry Slater, Karin & Rick Gale, Kris & Steve Borkenhagen and Karl & Kristen Kastner) and seven grandchildren.   

Arthur Kastner was also a man with Alzheimer’s.  He lived with the disease for over 10 years, and wasn’t ashamed about sharing his diagnosis.  “Dad would talk to others about having Alzheimer’s disease,” said his daughter, Kris Borkenhagen.

But while the family learned to live with the disease, they also grappled with the black mark that too often comes with the diagnosis.  “Stigma, oh yes,” said Art’s wife, Rosemary.  “People would roll their eyes.  We would go to the grocery store.  He might say something inappropriate, and I would later apologize by saying, ‘He has Alzheimer’s.’ That’s when the eyes would roll. I was always disturbed by people’s attitudes toward him.  Here was this man who was a pillar of strength for his family, business and community.  A friend to everyone.  And now people hesitate to have a conversation with him.  As time went on, he felt the rejection and was not happy with crowds or friends because he felt they did not accept his disabilities.”

Art was a people person who wanted to make others happy.  He lived his entire life according to this saying that was framed and hung on his office wall:

“If an old person has done just one thing in a lifetime that was a benefit to those much younger, that lifetime was worthwhile.”

Art embodied that sentiment.   He knew how to give back, and give generously. As a young man he was a member of the West Allis Jaycees.  Through this organization, his leadership skills excelled.  He helped with the West Allis City Directory, West Allis Circus Parade, Miss West Allis Pageant and local government.  He served on the West Allis Police and Fire Commission.  He started the West Allis Auto Club in 1961 and the West Allis Woodworkers Club in 1988.  In addition to being active in the community, he also had a passion for construction projects and woodworking. Even after Alzheimer’s had robbed him of his abilities to read a construction plan, or use a tape measure, Art still enjoyed creating something from a piece of wood.  Every morning he would work at the club making wood cutting boards, wood vases and wood pencil holders.  Throughout these past years, he gave hundreds of items away to family, friends and complete strangers.  For Art, the best part in giving away the items was making people smile.  Many would tell him, “You just made my day!”

“He always thought of others first,” said Kris, his daughter.  “No matter what stage of Alzheimer’s my dad was in, he was always more concerned about my mom and her health issues, than himself.”

Arthur Kastner died on January 26, 2014, just two days after his 85th birthday.  To this day, Rosemary is disappointed that his death certificate doesn’t mention a thing about Alzheimer’s disease.  “Yes, he died of heart failure.  But all those years where he slowly lost his ability to know right from wrong, to chew, to swallow, to walk, and to talk, I truly believe the frustrations of living with Alzheimer’s caused the heart failure and some mention of it should have been made on the death certificate.  He was a man who lived with Alzheimer’s.”

(left) Arthur Kastner at the West Allis Woodworkers Club and proudly wearing his West Allis Police and Fire Commission Hat


Alzheimer's Association

Our vision: A world without Alzheimer's disease®.
Formed in 1980, the Alzheimer's Association is the world's leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research.